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Looking for a new activity or date night idea to pick up? Consider chess. The game is an old favorite for lovers of strategy, and in recent years it’s become a design must-have, too. Plenty of modern designers have reimagined the classic chess set, leaving behind bulky, old-fashioned games for sleek and stylish sets that are basically art.
Nowadays you'll find graphic chess sets rendered in colorful acrylics, minimalist chess sets with muted palettes and simple forms—and everything in between. After all, why buy a chess set that’s fun to play when you could buy one that’s fun to play and pretty enough to display?
Here, the best stylish chess sets you can shop now.
CB2’s Marble Chess Game offers a sophisticated take on the classic chess set. Crafted entirely from marble, this option is sleek and durable—perfect for contemporary spaces. The heavy game board practically demands to be left out between uses, and its weighty pieces are pretty enough to double as decor. Though the shapes in this set have gotten a contemporary upgrade, the chess game’s palette feels totally traditional.
Looking for a classic chess game with above-average flair? The Umbra Wobble Chess Set has you covered. On the surface, this chess set is pretty traditional. All the pieces boast classic, recognizable silhouettes—and of course, the board has that iconic checked pattern. But the squares are actually rounded, as are the bases of all the pieces. These curves result in a chess game that moves dynamically and looks stunning enough to show off.
Each piece in Urban Outfitters’ Acrylic Chess Game is honestly a work of art. The acrylic board is transparent with opaque white boxes printed over it in a classic checkerboard pattern that feels fresh and modern. The acrylic pieces are also transparent, but they’re rendered in a vibrant palette. To differentiate the two sides, you'll find rich aquas and ceruleans on one side and light lavenders and dark maroons on the other. The geometric pieces may take some getting used to, but a chess set this pretty is worth a little extra effort.
For those wondering, the Man Ray Chess Set isn't simply inspired by visual artist Man Ray—it was actually designed by the Surrealist himself. So it doesn’t just double as decor, but it also doubles as a full-blown work of art. As expected, each piece in this chess set is sleek, pretty, and a little bit whimsical. Rooks have become cubes, knights have become swirls, and pawns have become spheres. Every piece is rendered in beech wood, and the matching game board is crafted from beech, as well. It's expensive, but worth it for hardcore design lovers.
When most people dress up a chess set, they reimagine the pieces. But Etsy shop Ollala instead reimagined the game board entirely. In lieu of a classic checkerboard, you’ll find an ornate mosaic made up of squares, triangles, and stars. This mosaic is rendered in a muted palette, so it won’t distract from your game play. Instead, it'll give you a stunning backdrop for your chess pieces to traverse. And if you ever get tired of chess, you can flip the wooden board over and play a little backgammon.
In the NYC Skyline Chess Set, every classic chess piece has been replaced by an iconic piece of architecture. Your king is the Freedom Tower, your queen is the Empire State Building, your bishop is the Chrysler Building, your knight is the Flatiron Building, and your rook is the Guggenheim. (Your pawns are classic New York townhouses, which are iconic in their own right.) All of these pieces are acrylic, and they sit atop a smooth, classic game board.
If you want a chess set that’s capable of multitasking, you’ll love the MoMA Design Store’s 2-in-1 Chess & Checkers Set. This set is exactly what it sounds like: A chess set that doubles as a checkers set. Even better? It doesn’t come with two sets of pieces. Flip the solid side up when you want to use the pieces as checkers, and flip them the other way to use them for chess. And if you ever get bored of the pink-and-white checkerboard, rest assured knowing you can always flip the board over to reveal an even more eye-catching aqua-and-teal option.
Jonathan Adler's glamorous chess set is suitable for both minimalists and maximalists. It's available in neon for the people who want something totally unique and contemporary, as well as a more traditional black and brown color scheme for those who want something classic yet very cool. The chunky pieces stand out on their own, but it's the oversized acrylic board that'll catch your attention. Give this game a place of honor in your living room—it's that good.